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NextFlex Launches $5.3M Funding Opportunity for Hybrid Electronics

WASHINGTON – NextFlex, the Department of Defense-sponsored Manufacturing Innovation Institute focused on maturing hybrid electronics, released Project Call 9.0 (PC 9.0) in June, its latest call for proposals that seek to fund more than $5 million in projects that further the development and adoption of hybrid electronics while addressing key challenges in advanced manufacturing.

The total PC 9.0 project value is expected to exceed $11 million (including NextFlex investment and performer cost-share), bringing the total anticipated investment in advancing hybrid electronics since NextFlex’s formation to $143 million.

Building from the success of past Project Calls, PC 9.0 uses broadly defined topics to enable a diverse proposer base, with special emphasis on areas in which hybrid electronics can impact high priority U.S. manufacturing opportunities and areas of emerging importance within the electronics manufacturing community. PC 9.0 emphasizes projects that address critical hybrid electronics manufacturing challenges, enabling the transition of hybrid electronics devices into applications that require superior performance, assured reliability, and improved environmental sustainability.

“NextFlex Project Calls advance the state of the art of hybrid electronics technology and have proven to push the field in new directions, with each marking development milestones that have been collectively achieved by the NextFlex consortium. PC 9.0 continues this trend, with increased emphasis on projects that will lead to technology transitions into both commercial markets and defense programs.” said Dr. Scott Miller, director of technology at NextFlex. “As hybrid electronics technologies increasingly find their way into products and manufacturing, these developments will expand the range of applications in aerospace, automotive, structural health monitoring, and medical wearables.”

Proposals focused on manufacturing challenges and advancing technology transitions are sought in these topic areas:

Topic 9.1: Manufacturing of High Resolution, Multilayer Electronic Packages and Devices

Topic 9.2: Thermal Management for Power Electronics

Topic 9.3: Reliable Hybrid Electronics for Extreme Conditions

Topic 9.4: Conformal & Structurally Integrated Hybrid Electronics

Topic 9.5: Additive Processes for Improved Environmental Sustainability of Electronics Manufacturing

Topic 9.6: Open Topic for “New Project Leads”

In addition, NextFlex announced the release of its latest public Hybrid Electronics Technology Roadmaps. Developed by subject matter experts from industry, academia and government, the NextFlex Technical Working Groups in 11 technical areas of emphasis – Automotive; Device Integration & Packaging; Materials; Modeling & Design; Printed Components & Microfluidics; Standards, Test & Reliability; Asset Monitoring Systems; Flexible Power; Human Monitoring Systems; Integrated Antenna Arrays; and Soft Wearable Robotics – update the roadmaps each year.

The public roadmaps summarize the detailed information on the current state of the art, market opportunities and needs, key stakeholders, a five-year forward-looking development roadmap, and prioritized technical gaps identified by each Technical Working Group in the full-version roadmaps to which NextFlex members have access. These roadmaps inform the priorities and shape the topics for NextFlex Project Calls.

More information on NextFlex’s PC 9.0, including proposal submission instructions and the Proposer’s Day & Teaming webinar that was hosted on Jun. 10, can be found at Proposals are due Jul. 24.Article ending bug


Report: EU Electronics Manufacturing to Continue Decline

BRUSSELS – Despite the adoption of the European Chips Act, the EU’s market share in critical electronics components beyond chips, including PCBs, EMS and advanced packaging, will decline to 15% by 2035, according to a new report.

The Securing EU’s Electronics Ecosystem report finds that the continent’s PCB industry segment has faced significant erosion over the last two decades, and revitalizing and growing electronics manufacturing – beyond chips – is essential to building a secure and robust European electronics ecosystem. A “silicon to systems” approach is necessary to support ongoing EU technological leadership and meet strategic goals.

“An innovative and resilient European electronics manufacturing industry is vital to ensuring the region’s access to defence and aerospace systems, medical technologies, and communications infrastructure. The growing strategic dependencies highlighted in the report are alarming as they undermine Europe’s ability to achieve key strategic priorities from a strengthening of the defense industrial base to the green and digital transitions,” said Sanjay Huprikar, president of Europe and South Asia operations, IPC, which released the report.

The report assesses how reliant Europe is on non-EU manufacturing across eight strategic sectors including aerospace/defense, automation, mobility, healthcare, and renewable energy. Highlights of the report include:

  • Across the key sectors, EU electronics production is expected to lag behind global trends and decline from 16.5% global market share today to 15% by 2035.
  • Those numbers become starker when looking at subsectors of the European electronics manufacturing industry, such as PCB production (1.7% global market share by 2035), advanced packaging (1.4%) and IC substrate production (0.7%) respectively.
  • Europe’s share of electronics manufacturing has fallen significantly in the last two decades despite demand for electronics soaring.
  • Global PCB production has more than doubled since 2000 with European demand today at an estimated €7.87 billion ($8.44 billion).
  • Despite soaring demand for PCBs, European PCB production is projected to satisfy only 11% of European demand for PCBs (down from 17.5% today).

The study findings echo growing calls for strategic investments and comprehensive policies to enhance the EU’s competitiveness including the European Council’s conclusions in April stating that Europe “needs to reduce its strategic dependencies in sensitive sectors – energy, critical raw materials, semiconductors, health, digital, food and critical technologies – and in other sectors such as chemicals, biotechnology and space.”

In response to the study, the European electronics manufacturing industry calls for an “Electronics Manufacturing Strategy“ under the 2024-2029 European Commission mandate to help the EU better withstand global disruptions and maintain a competitive edge. An industry “Call-to-Action” shared in June includes support from leading European electronics manufacturers and Trade Associations raising awareness for this situation.

“Any new industrial policy supporting competitiveness needs to embrace electronics manufacturing as a key enabler for innovation and resiliency in strategically important sectors, like aerospace and defence. A dedicated strategy, including EU targets for electronics manufacturing, will help Europe compete with global competitors” said Alison James, IPC senior director, European government relations.Article ending bug


Seacomp Opens Assembly Plant in Tijuana

CARLSBAD, CA – Seacomp in May opened a new 60,000 sq. ft. assembly facility in Tijuana, Mexico.

The new plant features 5,000 sq. ft. of space dedicated to PCB assembly, featuring solder paste printing and inspection, automated SMT placement, and reflow soldering.

“Manufacturing is a global industry, but it’s also a hands-on business,” said CEO Michael Szymanski. “That’s why we’ve made the decision to bring most of our leadership team back together under one roof and introduce a new Seacomp facility just an hour away from our command center in Southern California.”

Mexico’s close proximity to other North American businesses promises an unmatched opportunity to diversify product supply chains, reduce costs and lead times, and provide increased possibilities for “hands-on” collaboration throughout the product development process, the company said.

Seacomp celebrated the factory’s official launch on May 9, with a grand opening event that included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, facility tour, and networking opportunities for 115 partners, customers and global employees.

The new facility will create a total of 100 jobs in 2024, about a third being highly skilled roles in engineering and management, the company said.Article ending bug


Tyri Begins In-House Circuit Board Production in Sweden

KUNGSBACKA, SWEDEN – Tyri, a manufacturer of lighting equipment for work machines, is starting in-house production of circuit boards in Sweden.

The company’s 1,800 sq. m. facility will make Tyri self-sufficient in this area, giving it increased control, higher quality, and more reliable deliveries, the company said.

“We see many advantages in producing the circuit boards we need ourselves. Increased quality and delivery reliability are two of the most important reasons. We will produce for our production facility in Gothenburg and also for our production units in the UK and the USA,” said Jimmy Nordén, factory manager at Tyri Sweden.

Tyri said it plans to be self-sufficient in circuit boards for all the lamps produced in the group’s three factories by 2025, which will reduce the impact of global uncertainties and ensure more secure deliveries to customers.

“We have many colleagues in the producing industry who have their circuit board production in southwest Sweden. A cluster of knowledge and experience has been built up here, and we want to contribute with our knowledge to make the region even stronger in this area,” said circuit board production manager Per-Johan Edgren.

The company said digitalization is the focus for the future, and the 30 m. line is prepared from the start for continued digitalization.

“To achieve profitability in in-house circuit board production, a high degree of digitalization is required,” said Edgren. “We have done our homework, we are using the technology available today, and have prepared ourselves for future continued digitalization. Much of it is about improving productivity with high quality. That was the condition for making this investment, and it seems we have succeeded.”Article ending bug


Apple Among New Members of IPC-2581 Consortium

WESTBOROUGH, MA – Apple, Beta CAE and Panasonic Connect were welcomed as the newest members of the IPC-2581 Consortium during the group’s May meeting.

“We would like to support IPC-2581 as a standardized format to enable better communication between, for example, fab and assembly vendors,” Apple said in a statement.

During the meeting, members also discussed the use of a coin shape as an interesting application in a CAD system for PCB design, as well as a new via type to handle the application and how it would be defined in the CAD system. Other topics of discussion included the need for improved communication of materials and stack-up definitions to manufacturers – including composite and roll-up materials, the need to define and name dielectric layers in the stack up, particularly for trench vias, and the inclusion of span information for these layers.

The IPC-2581 Consortium is a group of PCB design and supply chain companies whose collective goal is to enable, facilitate and drive the use of IPC-2581 – a generic standard for printed circuit board and assembly manufacturing description data and transfer methodology – in the industry.Article ending bug


Doosan Named CCL Supplier for Nvidia AI Chips

SEOUL – Doosan Electro-Materials is anticipating a boost in copper-clad laminate sales after being selected as CCL supplier for Nvidia’s AI chip substrates, according to reports.

Doosan, the world’s largest CCL manufacturer, recently began mass production for Nvidia’s next-generation GPU B100, which is scheduled to be released in the fourth quarter.

Doosan’s first-quarter sales were 186.5 billion won ($135 million), and are projected to reach 900 billion won this year.

The global CCL market is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 6%, from $15.08 billion in 2022 to $21.2 billion by 2028, according to market research firm Global Information. The CCL market for AI chips is expected to reach $10 billion in 2025.Article ending bug


Flex Acquires FreeFlow B2B Platform

AUSTIN, TX – Flex has acquired FreeFlow, a company that specializes in global secondary markets and circular economy tracking and reporting.

FreeFlow’s B2B digital marketplace platform enables customers to sell surplus and returned inventory while protecting primary sales channels. Flex said the addition adds services for customers across multiple markets, including data center, enterprise, and lifestyle, to create additional revenue streams and accelerate sustainability through second life products.

“The acquisition of FreeFlow reaffirms Flex’s commitment to deliver the highest value to our customers, addressing their evolving business and sustainability needs across the product lifecycle while increasing our addressable market,” said Michael Hartung, president of Agility Solutions at Flex. “This addition further differentiates our end-to-end services and will enable a wide range of customers, from cloud to lifestyle, to realize the benefits of second life products, and ultimately deliver on their environmental commitments.”

Flex said it plans to expand FreeFlow and digital circular economy tracking and reporting capabilities into additional industry segments and major regions to help new and existing customers securely access secondary markets and drive faster adoption of sustainable solutions.Article ending bug


ASMPT Reorganizes American SMT Business

MUNICH – ASMPT has reorganized its SMT Solutions segment in the Americas (USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil), adding a new division between the North and South America regions.

The division of the business, which was previously managed centrally from Suwanee, GA, will allow the company to adjust its market focus to better meet the specific needs and requirements of the different markets, ASMPT said in a release.

The company said the markets in Mexico and Brazil differ from those in the US and Canada, with mainstream solutions for the high-volume production of consumer goods, computers and automotive electronics being the main drivers in Mexico and Brazil, while the Canadian and US markets focus on innovative and customer-specific advanced packaging solutions for high-mix production and on the development of special products for medical technology, the aerospace and defense industries, as well as industrial electronics.

“Serving these different market requirements required an operational separation of the Americas organization, which had previously been centrally coordinated from Suwanee, GA,” said Josef Ernst, CEO of ASMPT SMT Solutions. “Splitting the areas of responsibility allows ASMPT to focus on the specific needs of the markets in North and South America in a more targeted manner.”

Ramon Hernandez is responsible for Mexico and Brazil, and Alexander Hagenfeldt is in charge of the US and Canada. Backoffice and support operations in the Americas will remain largely unchanged under the leadership of the previous managers, the company said.

Hernandez has 23 years of experience in various positions in the electronics industry. He has been general manager for Mexico for ASMPT.

Hagenfeldt has been with ASMPT for 13 years, holding roles in marketing and service.Article ending bug


Keytronic Confirms Data Breach After Ransomware Attack

SPOKANE VALLEY, WA – Keytronic in June began notifying potentially affected parties and regulatory agencies of a breach that saw more than 500GB of personal data stolen.

The EMS company reported the cyberattack in an SEC filing in May, saying that the attack disrupted its operations by limiting access to business applications essential for corporate activities, and its domestic and Mexico operations were shut down for two weeks to address the incident.

Keytronic has resumed normal operations, but an investigation found that personal information had been stolen during the attack, the company said.

“Since the date of the original report, the company has determined that the threat actor accessed and exfiltrated limited data from the company’s environment, which includes some personally identifiable information,” Keytronic’s SEC filing said.

The company also said the production loss caused by the attack could impact its financial condition for the fourth quarter, which ended Jun. 29, and it incurred around $600,000 in expenses for external cybersecurity experts, with more costs anticipated.Article ending bug